Huseen Mahmud is locked up in detention center Ellebaek after being refused asylum in Denmark
Photos and story by: Ahmed
When asylum seekers are rejected in Denmark, their names are put on a list of deportation and are expected to go back to their country. But what happens if the asylum seeker does not dare to go back to his country? And the country refuses to receive him?
To know more New Times visited Ellebæk – a prison or closed camp – to interview one of the prisoners. His name is Huseen Mahmud. He is from Somalia and is 21 years old.
When did you came Denmark?
I came to Denmark July the ninth 2012. I was alone. I had come to ask for asylum. At that time I was underage, but the Danish Government did not believe that and I was told that I had no evidence proving my birthday. They told me I was between 18-22 years. I should choose between these numbers and I selected 18. They made my birthday the day and month that I came here. Ninth of July.
When were you rejected asylum?
I got negative May 2013 from the Immigration Service. Later I went to court, but they also sided with the Immigration Service. After that, I contacted the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and asked if they could help me. They told me they could only help me if something new happened related to my case. Some months later my mother and my brother in Somalia were killed in an explosion in Mogadishu. A few days later, I went to the DRC and I told them what had happened with my family. They asked me if I had any evidence available. Then I sought evidence. My family sent me papers from the hospital where my mother died. I showed it to the DRC and they took it and they told me to send it to the court. Then I should wait for 12 months and also the DRC told me not to leave the country until we get the answer from the court. I was waiting when police arrested me.
When were you arrested?
I was arrested October last year. Until now I’m in jail. I was in the kitchen in my asylum centre Hanstholm making food. I saw the police and they told me that I should be in prison until they had sent me back to my country. I didn’t say nothing, we were three from the same centre, and we met another six asylum seekers like us in Ellebaek.
Did you make something wrong or commit a crime?
No, I never made something wrong.
Did you contact DRC after your arrest?
Yes, we did all of us. We contacted them and they came to us in the prison. They told us that they could not do anything for us. They told me that they are still waiting for the court, but at that time they could not do anything.
Do you talk with your lawyer?
I really do not know his name and I do not have his card, but I see him once every four weeks when we have court meeting via a television screen here in prison. We have a court session every four weeks, but I do not get a chance to talk to him.
How is life in Ellebaek?
We are not under pressure, we can walk outside, we can talk to each other, we can play football or cards and we can watch football matches together. But we cannot leave this building. It is really a lack of freedom. If you have everything but not your freedom, it is sad.
Is there any message you want to send to the Danish Government?
Yes, I want to send a request to everyone with an interest in a case like mine, especially the Minister of Justice, because I do not feel justice. I would say: ‘My name is Huseen Mahmud. I’m in Ellebaek prison unfairly. I did not do bad things and I fled my country because of many problems. I never thought to be in prison in Denmark, but it happened. I ask to be released from prison and to release the people in here like me’’.
[message_box title=”Who is sent to Ellebæk detention?” color=”red”]Ellebæk is not a detention center for criminals. It is almost never criminals who are put in Ellebæk detention center. Most people in Ellebæk are there because they either did not show up at the police for meetings about going back, or because the police expects that the asylum seeker will disappear before the arranged date of departure. The average detention time for people in Ellebæk was 24 days in 2014. Ellebæk is not considered a prison under Danish law, because it is illegal to jail asylum seekers in Denmark. So even though it keeps people in custody under prison-like conditions you will rarely see it described as a prison.[/message_box]
[message_box title=”Amnesty International on Ellebæk” color=”red”]In detention in a prison-like institution, we risk worsening of people’s health. According to consultant Morten Ekstrøm, head of Psychiatric Trauma Clinic for Refugees and Amnesty Danish Medical Group with many years of experience in treating victims of torture, the worst-case end with suicide attempts and at best cause some severe anxiety – and depression reactions. Source: Amnesty International[/message_box]
[message_box title=”Not only Huseen” color=”red”]New Times knows about four other detainees in Ellebæk who have been in custody for more than seven months. They are also from Somalia.[/message_box]